Student Q&A: Nathan Wong, 1L (He/Him)

Nathan Wong is a second-year law student from Temple City, CA, and enjoys hosting dinner parties, thrift flipping, and surfing. At UCI Law, he is vice-chair for the Environmental Law Society, a Research Assistant for Professor Joseph DiMento, a member of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, a top 16 competitor in this year’s Moot Court Competition and one of UCI Law’s Environmental Scholars. This summer he will be working with Earthjustice in their San Francisco office.

Photo of Nathan Wong

Q: Why did you choose UCI Law?

I chose UCI law because of its reputation as an innovative, young law school and its emphasis on experiential learning, especially in public interest work. I wanted to go to law school to be an effective advocate for marginalized communities. Now, within my two years here, I’ve been able to work directly with clients to prepare asylum declarations, assist with research in the fight for clean air, and interview policymakers to develop solutions to advance fair housing and reduce transportation emissions. I’m excited to continue building upon these skills and experiences as I enter my third year.

Q: What’s your favorite class?

Aside from clinic, my favorite class so far has been Criminal Procedure with Professor Ji Seon Song. She does a great job of bringing light and enthusiasm to an often-heavy subject. I also enjoyed learning more about the law with the additional context of America’s history of policing and challenging the assumptions that shaped our 4th, 5th and 6th amendment jurisprudence.

Q: How has your experience been in the Environmental Law Clinic?

Being in the Environmental Law Clinic has really broadened my perspective on what it means to be an environmental lawyer. In my previous experiences, I thought that the field primarily revolved around working with communities, agencies, and environmental statutes. However, this semester, we’re using consumer law to hold companies accountable for greenwashing and to push for meaningful change in the way they address their climate impact. While learning how to conduct my own fact research, develop a theory of the case from scratch, and draft a complaint has its ups and downs, Professor Michael Robinson-Dorn has been helpful in guiding us through the process and talking through dense legal issues that we encounter. It has been really rewarding to think creatively about how to use other laws to solve environmental problems.

Q: What's your proudest accomplishment so far at UCI Law and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?

My proudest accomplishment so far was being honored as an Environmental Scholar. As the first person of color to receive the award, I’m proud to use the lessons I’ve learned so far and help mentor other 1Ls who are interested in pursuing environmental law. In the future, I hope to continue building a more diverse community within the Environmental Law Society and the legal profession broadly. After law school, I hope to work in environmental justice litigation and advance policies to help remedy disproportionate harm to minority and low-income communities.